Sunday, 7 June 2015

Resident Evil 2 (PSX) - Part 1

Developer:Capcom|Release Date:1998|Systems:PlayStation, Windows, N64, Dreamcast, GameCube

I don't like Resident Evil.

I mean I like the universe and the characters just fine, I just don't generally like the games. But it's been over two years since I last played one of them and the site's been survival horror free for almost as long, so today on Super Adventures I'm going to be taking a quick look at Hideki Kamiya's PlayStation masterpiece Resident Evil 2!

And there'll likely be whining under every screenshot. Whining and analysis.

To be honest, this just isn't really my genre. I get the theory behind using tank controls, limited saves, awkward camera angles and a tiny inventory to enhance the tension, but in all the games I've played it's mostly just increased my frustration. But I'm determined to at least pretend that I'm giving the game a fair shot, for as long as it takes for me to figure out if it's any different to the first game.

(This article contains screenshots of explicit violence and gore.)



I've seen bits of the game before, but I couldn't remember if this one had a sinister announcer saying "Resident Evil... 2" when you start a new game... and it turns out that it does! (Youtube link)

The first big difference for the sequel is that they've dropped the live action FMV, and the switch to 90s CGI means that characters are more plastic than wooden in the intro this time around. The voice acting on the other hand seems to have maintained the same... standard. It all skippable by the way, though only a shambling inhuman monster would ever want to (and people who've seen it already).

Original heroes Chris and Jill are sitting this game out, so Leon S. Kennedy and Claire Redfield are making their Resident Evil d├ębut in their place. Leon is a rookie cop on his first day on the job, Claire is Chris's sister, and each gets a slightly different cutscene to show their reaction to learning that they arrived in Raccoon City just in time for the zombie apocalypse.

After getting a bit frustrated at how many shots zombies take to kill, Leon meets Claire running out of a diner, their intros converge, and the two of them borrow a cop car to escape the horde.

I haven't been entirely impressed by the CGI in this intro so far, but this particular shot surprised me with how realistic it looks. Though I had to go frame by frame before I was sure there was actually people sitting in the car. Something about this clip makes me want to watch it over and over again, and now you can too!

By the way, that truck behind them is being driven by the only other character introduced in the intro. He was shown climbing into the cab earlier with a bleeding arm, wondering "Why'd he bite me?" So Chehkov's fuel truck of inevitable doom is now in play.

Our heroes have other issues though, as Leon's twin brother was hiding in the backseat of their borrowed patrol car all along!

Fortunately Leon's terrible driving saves the day, as he manages to launch their passenger out the window by slamming the car into a signpost. It's funny looking back at this, as it's become a long standing Resident Evil tradition for him to wreck any vehicle he steps foot in. As soon as Leon gets behind the wheel of a car you can guarantee the thing will sooner flip onto its roof than take him anywhere near where he wants to go.

This also counts for buses, planes, helicopters... trains. He's great at boats though.

This is the original PlayStation version I'm playing here, which gives Claire and Leon a complete game disc of their own. So if you wanted to you could put two consoles side by side and play both characters simultaneously from the same copy.

I'm not sure what the gameplay differences are between them yet, but once they meet up their intros become almost identical... except for one change at the end I didn't even notice at first: Leon crashes differently, spinning the car around and sending the zombie flying out of a different window.

There's a very good reason for this, as two seconds later that fuel truck collides with the car and explodes in a massive fireball, dividing the street in two. They both jump out in time no matter who you pick...

... but the player character always ends up on this side of the road. The characters agreed to meet up at the police precinct, so they each start off heading in the same direction, down the same street and seeing the exact same pre-rendered backgrounds along the way.

Well the good news is that I'm not locked inside a mansion this time, plus I've started off with a pistol! Though that's kind of offset by the fact that I'm being chased down the street by burning corpses, and maybe a couple of cows too judging by the noises I'm hearing.

The graphics are a bit prettier, but this plays almost identically to the first game so far, with tank controls and a new background every few steps. I don't remember ever seeing quite so many zombies in one place though.

I had real trouble back in Resident Evil even taking down one enemy, so there's no way I'm going to try to kill all these guys with just 18 bullets and a knife. Leon starts with a lighter too, but even I'm not dumb enough to try incinerating things that are already on fire.

"Fighting foes is not the only way to survive this horror," the game says if you leave the title screen on long enough while busy typing up an article, but they really haven't given me much room to manoeuvre around them here. I'm weaving down the street, bouncing off walls and wandering into enemies like I'm drunk, and it doesn't help that there's a truck in the foreground blocking my view! I almost wish the game had an overhead camera to let me see what I'm doing. Even a little mini-map radar would've helped.


FIVE BACKGROUNDS LATER.


The road led to a dead end but I was able to duck inside a shop, where I discovered that the unskippable door opening interludes have returned as well! I guess if you need to cunningly cover up 10 seconds of loading this is better than showing a spinning CD.

I'm surprised that Capcom had so much trouble making the game, seeing as it's basically just more Resident Evil. This is actually their second attempt at it though, as the original Resident Evil 2 was scrapped almost a year into development for being boring.

Resident Evil '1.5'
The unfinished game now known as 'Resident Evil 1.5' originally had different backgrounds, a different plot and a complete absence of Claire Redfield. The second character started out as university student called Elza Walker, but she was replaced with Chris Redfield's sister to tie it in better with the original game. It's a shame that the character was just ejected from the series entirely after this as I like her motorcycle gear; it's very practical for a zombie outbreak (though she should've kept the helmet).

It's probably for the best that they ejected the original story though, as it apparently left little room for sequels and may have killed the franchise dead right here. Though on the other hand that would've spared us from Resident Evil: Survivor, Resident Evil: Gaiden AND Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City... maybe it would've been kinder to let it die.

Oh right, I was opening a door wasn't I? Sorry, I got distracted.

Oh great, I've broken into the only shop in town which still has an owner.

The guy's happy enough to lower his shotgun though when he realises I'm not the walking dead, and secretly I think he's a little grateful that I reminded him that his front door's open, seeing as he comes over and locks it behind me.


MEANWHILE, IN CLAIRE'S ADVENTURE.


This is what I'd have been looking at right now if I'd been playing using Claire's disc instead.

It might seem like it's basically the exact same game with a slightly more feminine player character, but if you look carefully you'll see that the shop owner is carrying a crossbow this time! I can see now why each character needed their own CD.

To be fair the dialogue is also different, for both Claire and the shopkeeper (he doesn't call Leon "babe" all that much).

Oh man, I hope those tiny red boxes are actually ammo! Because there's nothing else worth taking in this gun shop.

Through the miracle of compression the N64 port is almost identical to the PlayStation version despite being about 90% smaller, but it does include a handful of new 'EX-files' scattered around to fill in some of the backstory... including one written by the gun shop guy explaining that he's handed out all his guns and ammo to other survivors (including Barry Burton's revolver!) So yeah, they're gone.

Hydrogen gun bullets? Oh handgun bullets. Sure, I'll take a few of them.

At first glance this looked identical to the Resident Evil inventory screen to me, but then I started noticing little changes. Leon's a lot more anime looking than Chris for instance and has two extra inventory slots. The biggest difference though...


Resident Evil (PSX)
... is that the items don't have a spinnable 3D model any more! What's the point of carrying a Heckler & Koch VP70 if I can't spin it around and examine its pixelly textures?

Actually the biggest difference is that ammo stacks this time. Man it was a pain in the ass playing as Chris in that game, with his six item slots and bullets alone taking up a third of them.

Sadly a zombie assassination squad smashed in through the windows and killed my shopkeeper friend, so I had to continue my journey to the police station alone (after sneaking by them to help myself to another box of ammo).

There's plenty more zombies waiting outside, but these guys aren't no so good with fences or locked doors, so I get to hold onto my new bullets a little longer. They're really trying though! Dumbass zombies.

Crap, the alleyway led to a dead end and the zombies just got the fence open behind me!

Fortunately I've got an inventory full of bullets and auto-aim, so I'm feeling pretty confident that I can take them, whether they're off-screen or not. Just got to keep pulling the trigger until I see a red puddle under them and the danger music stops.

Hey, I've just realised that the game's finally given me that overhead view I wanted earlier.


40 BACKGROUNDS, 20 ZOMBIES AND 6 KILLS LATER (APPROX). 


I've finally made it to the Raccoon City police precinct, and I'm still mostly alive! You know, in retrospect we should've probably driven the cop car out of the zombie infested city, instead of trapping ourselves right into the middle of it.

But whatever, I should be (relatively) safe in here. I can hide from the zombies, meet with the other survivors, and generally screw around until Claire turns up.

Aw crap... this is basically another weird-ass maze-like zombie-infested deserted mansion isn't it? Seems that the real Resident Evil 2 starts here.


Click this link to continue on to the real Resident Evil 2: Part two.

Semi-Random Game Box